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“America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” reveals what it really takes to become one of the icons

Netflix’s new docu-series takes you behind the scenes of the intense, grueling, but rewarding life of America’s most famous cheerleaders.

Netflix’s new docu-series takes you behind the scenes of the intense, grueling, but rewarding life of America’s most famous cheerleaders.
Jerome MironUSA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders have been an icon since the 1970s when then general manager Texas “Tex” Schramm put seven women in tiny white booty shorts, a Cowboys-blue, tied-up top, and fringed white vest on the field to dance in front of the audience.

Since that day, America’s sweehearts have become as famous as the team itself. Today, there are 36 Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders who take the field during every home game. Becoming one of the 36 is no easy feat. Netflix’s new doc-series “America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” takes you behind the scenes of what it really takes to become one of America’s most famous cheerleaders.

How many episodes is the Netflix series about the DCC?

The Netflix doc-series follows the intense audition process of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders of the 2023-24 season and it does so over the course of seven episodes. It will also introduce us to the women in charge of changing the lives of the dancers who make it - and those who don’t.

What does it take to become a DCC?

DCC director Kelli Finglass, who danced in the iconic uniform herself back in the 80s, is now the leader of the squad, and since becoming director in 1991, has been a fundamental part of taking the DCC status to where it is today.

Finglass and head choreographer Judy Trammel (also a DCC in the 80s) are the main judges during the grueling, multi-round auditions. First, they must choose from over 200 applicants which ones are worthy of even appearing in front of them. They will select around 70 women to come to Dallas and perform a solo dance for them as well as a panel of judges.

From there, around 45 women will be selected and invited to a 10-week DCC training camp. That’s when things really start to get intense. According to the DCC website, the women will be judged on their dance technique, high kicks, splits, showmanship, personal appearance, energy, enthusiasm, poise, figure, and personality. During the training camp, the candidates will have to learn all 50 routines and be able to perform them with zero mistakes. From there, they will be judged on the uniform as well. While there are no height or weight requirements, the DCC website states that the dancers must look “well-proportioned in dancewear” and are expected to be in peak physical shape to be able to perform for over three hours during games.

From that point, Finglass and Trammell consult with the chief branding officer Charlotte Jones and decide on the final 36. But the selection process is just the beginning. Before the season begins, there are between two and five mandatory rehearsals held every week, with some even held on weekends for rookies or to prepare for certain events.

The Netflix series follows along all the way through the NFL season and showcases the physical toll that all that hard work takes on the cheerleader’s bodies. Neck and back problems are common for the DCC, and some have even had to have surgery due to hip injuries caused by the repeated jump splits.

Even still, the DCC will tell you that it’s the best job in the world. “There’s so much love. That’s what’s addicting about DCC,” said retired DCC Caroline Sundvold. “You love performing. You love putting on the uniform and feeling like a superhero. But you love your life. It literally was the best job you could ever have.”

How does Netflix’s series differ from CMT’s series about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders?

From 2006 to 2022, Paramount cable network CMT had a show called “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team”, which followed the same premise as Netflix’s new show. CMT canceled the series in 2022, as other outlets were looking to pick up the show. Finglass said they were “in the process of negotiating a new partnership” on a “new platform”. Then in 2024, Netflix announced the new series.

Netflix’s series will follow a different structure than CMT’s show, and has an entirely new production team, directed by Greg Whiteley and produced by One Potato Productions and Boardwalk Pictures in association with Campfire Studios. Executive producers are Greg Whiteley and Adam Leibowitz of One Potato Productions, Andrew Fried and Dane Lillegard of Boardwalk Pictures, and Ross M. Dinerstein and Rebecca Evans of Campfire Studios.

“The kind of access and creative freedom we need to make the kind of work we want to make is not easy to come by, especially when dealing with a brand as large as the Dallas Cowboys,” said Whiteley. “To their infinite credit, the Cowboys offered unfettered access for the year we filmed the DCC and left us alone. The result is an authentic portrait of one of the most storied and beloved institutions we have in American pop culture.

When does “America’s Sweetheards: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” premiere?

The new docu-series will be available to stream on Netflix starting on Thursday, June 20.